Sunday Status Update: November 2, 2014

This week, big thanks to Marion for securing an update from Bigby Wolf himself.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bigby: Big B Wolf, Sheriff, Fabletown. Daily Report: I hope Deputy Mayor White is pleased with herself, running me around on this “community policing” gig. Two hours in the basement explaining to the mice — again — that tying a bell around the cat’s neck is technically assault; plus those rodents in the front row waving that Farley Mowat book and chanting, “Wolf Eats Mice!”  It’s funny that those mice don’t want to talk about who nibbled off the Gingerbread Man’s feet during his last yoga session. Give me a break.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews John: I am finishing up Drawn Blades by Kelly McCullough and I need to write the review for Tainted Blood by M.L. Brennan, I was really disappointed in where Brennan appears to be taking this series. ARGH!!!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: For the past month I have kept my promise to catch up on all the series I’ve left unfinished. I’m proud of myself for resisting the temptation to try something new. (Not sure how long this will last.) I read book four of Madeleine L’Engle’s TIME QUINTET: Many Waters, a historical fantasy about Noah’s ark. River Secrets, book three of Shannon Hale’s BAYERN BOOKS, is a touching children’s fantasy that focuses on one of her more popular characters in the series. Patrick RothfussThe Slow Regard of Silent Things, book 2.5 of his KINGKILLER CHRONICLES, is a nice concept that went on a little too long for me. Taltos, the fourth book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series is an amusing adventure. The Scarlet Fig, the final book in Avram Davidson’s VERGIL MAGUS trilogy, has no plot. Falling Free, an early stand-alone story from Lois McMaster Bujold’s VORKOSIGAN saga is a fun revolution story.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kate: I finished William Gibson‘s The Peripheral (which was wonderful) and have moved on to Kelly Link‘s upcoming short story collection, Get in Trouble. It’s predictably unpredictable, with a story or two that takes my breath away, and a story or two that I don’t “get” or care for as much. I’m also listening to The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. I’m having some serious mixed reactions to this one. Just when I think it’s great, something really stupid happens. And just when I think it’s terrible, it wins me back over.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews João: I started this week with Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress, the original award winning novella. Ever since I read her Yesterday’s Kin, and found it to be not that good, I have wanted to read the story that gave her the prominence she now has. You can see in Yesterday’s Kin the raw talent that Kress has to translate scientific ideas into story ideas, and that talent is fully realized in Beggars in Spain. It’s a very good story, and it explores some very interesting, and timely, ideas. I do not know whether the novelization and subsequent sequels are as good as the novella, but the novella is so good that I want to check them out. Although a westerner, I also re-read Shane by Jack Schaefer. It is a short read, but one of my favorite books ever. It’s about hero worshipping and Shane is indeed the kind of man that one can look upon and say “I want to strive to be like him.” It’s a shame Schaefer’s other books aren’t as readily available as Shane is (Shane was also made into a movie). I have also started a re-reader of THE SHADOW SAGA by Orson Scott Card, starting with Ender’s Shadow. It hasn’t been that long since I read that series front to back, but they haven’t been reviewed here yet and it is as good a reason as anything to read it again. It’s one of my favorites. Additionally, as if those weren’t enough, I am about to start Starship Troopers by Heinlein, since I am a big fan of military sci-fi and Starship Troopers is such a cornerstone of that sub-genre. Oh, and I almost forgot, I did start reading Fearsome Journeys, the first story of the lot: Scott Lynch’s “The Effigy Engine: A Tale of the Red Hats.” The only bad thing about the story is that it makes you mad at Lynch for not having the availability to start a new series featuring The Red Hats. All in all, a good reading week.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I am two-thirds through Tina Connolly’s book Silverblind. I will be interested to see if she can pull this off!  I treated myself to a reread of Neil Gaiman’s short story “October in the Chair,” which appears in Fragile Things. He, like Robert Jackson Bennett, does an awesome job of personifying things that aren’t, well, persons. I read part of a brief nonfiction book on the Russian settlement of Fort Ross because I am using a bit of Russian influence in a short story. I’m enjoying some poetry, mostly Mary Oliver. And I read Sara Gran’s “hipster noir” detective story, Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway and was disappointed. The quirky strangeness that made Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead so new feels forced here and there was no mystery to speak of.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Rebecca: I’m in the middle of reading Margaret Mahy‘s unofficial trilogy of supernatural YA dramas: The Haunting, The Changeover and The Tricksters. I’ve read them all before, but I’m always struck at just how vivid my memories of them really are. Mahy had a knack with words that helped keep entire sentences fresh in my mind, even years after reading them.

After that, I’m planning on re-reading Frank L. Baum‘s The Wizard of Oz, followed by Gregory Maguire‘s revisionary take on the material in his book Wicked. Why yes, I have just got back from seeing the musical in Sydney, and I’m looking forward to seeing how all three stories relate to each other.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Sandy: Hi, folks! I have recently plopped onto our work page reviews for Dennis Wheatley’s 1948 black magic thriller The Haunting of Toby Jugg and for an uncharacteristic piece of work from Abraham Merritt, Seven Footprints to Satan. I have also just started a huge book of short stories from my old favorite writer, Robert E. Howard, that ought to keep me busy for quite a while….

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: To celebrate Halloween, I started reading It by Stephen King. As big a fan of King as I am, I never got around to reading this one. I’m really enjoying it. Well, “enjoying” is maybe the wrong word; unless you can explain to me why human beings enjoy being scared.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: It’s been another eclectic reading week for me. I’ve been reading, in no particular order: Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson; Needful Things, by Stephen King; A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens; House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski; Naruto, by Masashi Kishimoto (I had intended to read Death Note, but Brad had recommended this one too — thanks again! — and I’m told that as the series is about to end, this is the ideal time to have a look-see); and Sharps, by K.J. Parker (a reread). I’m enjoying all of them, which is in large part why I’m still reading all of them rather than finished with any of them.

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TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

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  1. I should also mention that I’m having fun dipping into THE WRITER’S IDEA THESAURUS by Fred White, AKA “Terry Weyna’s husband Fred.” It is a treasury of notions, story ideas and writing prompts.

  2. Oh god, if I hand’t started it when I was young I don’t know whether I would be able to go through every Naruto issue all over again. It starts alright, it gets great, but for the longest time it has been dreadfully bad.

    • Ha, is it? I had heard rumors that Naruto was starting to fall apart a bit (though apparently Bleach is worse), but I wasn’t sure how much of it might have just been the original audience growing older and starting to be more demanding… thanks for the warning, then. I’ll finish what the library has and then we’ll see whether I want to read the rest of it knowing that it degrades.

      Meant to say, btw, that I love Shane as well. Very underrated book.

  3. Brad Hawley /

    I hope you enjoy it, Tim!

    Joao, I wish I’d read these volumes when I was a kid! But I’ve come to manga late in life, and unless the series is short, I’m perfectly happy reading a few volumes and calling it quits. But Akira and Phoenix and some others are must-reads all the way through. Most of the manga aimed at adults doesn’t go on forever. In fact, much of it is comprised of short stories, or standalone volumes (like Tezuka’s Black Jack). That’s how I like my manga, mostly. But Death Note was fun, and though I got tired of Bakuman toward the end, I’m glad I read all 20 volumes (I spent at least a year doing so). Pluto is only about 9 volumes. Barefoot Gen is about 10 volumes. There are plenty that don’t drag on. But though Full Metal Alchemist and Naruto will be fun to enjoy from time to time, I have absolutely no desire to finish them. My daughter is into Naruto, Full Metal, Blue Exorcist, and Case Closed, but we haven’t gone past volume 10 in Blue E or Case C, and we haven’t gone past volume 20 in Naruto and Full Metal.

  4. Terry – I suspect people enjoy the adrenalin. Not me though – the scariest movie I’ve ever been able to sit all the way through was Poltergeist which is supposedly the mildest of this kind of thing yet it gave me nightmares.

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